TOKYO -- In December last year, Tatsuo Fukuda, 54, chairman of the General Council of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, had a dinner meeting in Tokyo that included former chair Seiko Noda -- who vied with Fumio Kishida in last autumn's LDP presidential election -- and Katsunobu Kato, former chief cabinet secretary of the ruling party.
The council is the party's highest decision-making body, and its leader is regarded as a key player within the LDP. The chairperson is tasked with building consensus among divergent opinions and is typically offered to seasoned lawmakers who have considerable cachet with party members. Hence, it was unusual that Fukuda, who has been elected only four times to the lower house, was picked for the post. The dinner gave him a chance for him to reach out to some of his predecessors for advice.